21 May 2018
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Community Partners Delivers “Expert Goodness” to the Bay Area

by Margie Kelley

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Since its launch in 1986, the HBS Association of Northern California’s Community Partners (HBSCP) program has deployed the expertise of more than 1,000 alumni volunteers to enhance the impacts of hundreds of Bay Area nonprofits and local governments.

Today, HBSCP is a major initiative of the club, connecting alumni to each other and to the communities it serves.

Elaine MacDonald (MBA 1998)

“We deliver expert goodness,” says HBSCP executive director Elaine MacDonald (MBA 1998). “Our teams of alumni volunteers work with 35 to 40 diverse nonprofits a year,” either through direct engagement or in pro-bono brainstorming sessions.

“It’s a wonderful way to give back,” says Club President Jan Gullet (MBA 1977). “We’ve done the research. Our members tell us what they value most is getting to know fellow alumni and working on problems with them. That’s why Community Partners has become so popular. We’re providing $2.5 million in pro bono consulting a year. That’s having a significant impact on our region.”

The city of San Francisco has been a major beneficiary of the program in recent years, says MacDonald. “We’ve had 53 alumni volunteers working with the City of San Francisco in the last five years, across eight consulting engagements and several brainstorming sessions. Alumni love working with the city. It’s our most popular client.”

According to Juan Carlos Velten (MBA 1998), Chair of HBS Community Partners in San Francisco, alumni volunteers “have helped the city capitalize on the innovation sprouting from Silicon Valley, through specific initiatives such as designing the structure of the city’s startup incubator, developing innovative ways to incorporate technology solutions to city departments including Emergency Services and the City Library, and most importantly, helping the Office of the Mayor develop a system of collaboration where startups can play a role in doing pilots with dozens of city departments without the typical red tape.”

“San Francisco is a fantastic city, facing significant challenges with gentrification and daily quality of life,” says John Peters (MBA 1986), who worked on two separate projects for the Mayor’s Office for Civic Innovation (MOCI): the Strategy Project, focused on clarifying the MOCI’s vision and mission; and the Safety Cleanliness & Livability Project, focused on improving city services and quality of life. “The HBSCP projects gave me an exciting opportunity to help San Francisco break through a number of short-term challenges to be the world-class city it is rapidly becoming, while also being a great place to live. The results of our work led to expanded roles and better outcomes for the city groups we worked with and hopefully higher impact for the residents of San Francisco.”

Nora Barr (MBA 2016), who recently finished two projects with the SF Public Library, says Community Partners not only allowed her to help her city, it gave her a new connection to her HBS alumni community.

“I really liked being connected to other alumni, and Community Partners has helped me maintain a strong connection to HBS,” she says. “It was a pretty positive experience. I definitely plan to stay involved.”

Now serving on the HBSCP leadership team, Peters says the program is very attractive to alumni who want to do more in their communities, have an impact, and pay it forward.

“What they lack is a clear path on how to make that happen inside a hectic life of work and personal commitments,” he says. “Community Partners can be the bridge that brings those talented people together with worthy causes to become a stepping stone to making our communities a better place to live. I also see social and community impact as having increasing value to recent alumni. If you aspire to build an engaged and vibrant local community of alumni, connecting people with social and community impact work is a great way to achieve that.”

HBS Hacks: Solving for the Future of Work in San Francisco

The HBS Association of Northern California Community Partners program co-organized with the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative the HBS Hacks event, Solving for the Future of Work in San Francisco, which was held on May 18 in the city.

Intended to explore the impacts of technology on the nature and availability of work in San Francisco, the all-day conference invited alumni to join a conversation with HBS faculty, city stakeholders, and tech industry leaders, and nonprofits.

Participants explored questions like “How can business, government, and nonprofit leaders come together to mitigate the effects of worker displacement? How should entrants to the workforce best prepare themselves?”

Leaders from the City of San Francisco, local colleges, and nonprofits as well as collaborators from Google.org, IDEO, and other local businesses described their perspectives on the problem.

The HBS Community Partners team will use the opportunities identified at the event to bring together cross-sector leaders over the next year, and share follow-up results one year later. For more information, see here.

HBSAB Hosts CEO Brand Leadership Roundtable

The HBS Association of Boston (HBSAB) held its 10th Annual CEO Brand Leadership Roundtable, “How Best-Selling Brands Thrive in Today’s Ever-Changing Competitive Landscape,” on April 5, providing 130 alumni, students, and guests with a unique opportunity to learn brand-building and strategies from four top brand leaders.

This year’s panel featured: Bahram Akradi, CEO, chairman, and founder of Life Time, a chain of fitness clubs focused on total wellness with a resort experience; Mitchell Gold, cofounder and chairman of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a home furnishing manufacturer; Karen Kaplan, CEO of ad agency Hill Holliday; and Felix Rappaport, CEO of Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The event opened with a cocktail reception in the Spangler Center’s Williams Room, followed by a fireside chat with the panelists in Spangler Auditorium. The night concluded with four separate breakout sessions in HBS classrooms, each lead by one of the guest CEOs.

“It was a fantastic evening,” says Sharon Lewis (MBA 1983) the HBSAB’s Vice President for Programs. “We’re giving our members direct access to some extremely impressive and successful CEOs, in an informal, interactive setting. They get real insights on how to build a brand and how to inspire people to believe in a brand.”

For a decade, the HBSAB has partnered with Boston-based brand strategist and entrepreneur Larry Gulko to produce what has become one of the club’s most popular event. Gulko recruits the guest CEOs and serves as moderator for an evening of unscripted, entertaining dialogue about building and championing successful brands.

“Our goal each year is to deliver the unexpected, and we do,“ says Gulko, co-host of the Name Brands podcast on CBS Boston. “It’s a rare chance to have direct conversations with these very high-level CEOs.”

The CEOs are not “presenting their PR pitch deck on the virtues of their company,” says Rick Williams (PMD 33, 1977), a former club president. “They’re engaging in a lively and creative exchange about the real value of their product and service to their customers, and what they do to sustain their brand value.”

HBSWANY Tackles #MeToo


Taking their cue from the sweeping #MeToo movement, the HBS Women’s Association of Greater New York (HBSWANY) recently addressed the issue of workplace sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault with an off-the-record discussion and networking evening.

The HBSWANY co-hosted “Let’s Talk #MeToo” on April 12 with the Harvard Law School Women’s Alliance. The women-only conversation featured a panel of experts on women’s rights, employment law, and executive recruitment, who gave guidance for professional women navigating the workplace as new hires, managers, and leaders in a “post-#MeToo” environment.

Co-organizer and moderator Laura Fortner (MBA 1995) says the event, held at creative space MONDO in Summit, NJ, was an opportunity to address a timely topic while featuring experts from both the HBS and the Harvard Law School alumni communities.

“We were pleased to have our four-woman panel comprised of two HLS and two HBS grads,” says Fortner, who organized the event with Joahne Carter (MBA 2002), Elizabeth Williams (MBA 1999), Ahalya Nava (MBA 2002), and Patricia Paul (HLS 1992). “Our goal was to drive practical and tactical conversation about what women should know and do when faced with #MeToo-type issues in the workplace,” she says. “So we structured the discussion using three possible scenarios that the panel then addressed directly.” Panelist Elizabeth Saylor (HLS 2001), a commercial law firm partner with over 15 years of experience representing victims of gender-based violence and sex discrimination, addressed the legal process that ensues when a victim formally files a complaint at work. Panelist Kristin Sostowski (HLS 2001), director of the Employment & Labor Law Department at Gibbons PC In Newark, led a conversation about the responsibilities of managers and companies when an employee has been named in a complaint. Panelist Kenna Baudin (MBA 1994), head of U.S. private equity at executive search firm Egon Zehnder, gave advice for women job seekers on the best ways to understand the work culture under consideration and how to identify red flags. “After the panel wrapped, there was an excellent breakout conversation and candid sharing amongst the members,” says Fortner. “We all came away feeling more informed on the issues and energized to pursue future opportunities to connect the HBS and HLS alumnae communities in NJ.”

KC Club Speaker Series Features Hallquist; Brings Alumni Together

In her recent talk, “From Hallmark to Harvard, to High Schools,” hosted on April 26 by the HBS Club of Kansas City, Carol Hallquist shared her journey from top of the corporate world to her new mission to improve public education by fostering strong leadership skills among principals.

After a long career of leadership at the Hallmark Corporation, Hallquist became a fellow in the 2016 Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, where she focused on urban education. It was there that she developed what became her new nonprofit, Principals Connect, which matches high school principals in Kansas City with retired professionals who serve as leadership and management mentors.

“It was great to have someone from the Fellowship program speak to our HBS alumni group,” says Club President Marc Kuemmerlein (AMP 170, 2006).

Hallquist’s inspiring talk before an intimate group of 21 alumni was part of the club’s regular speaker series, aimed at connecting alumni in the region with each other and with stars in the local community.

“We’re serving our members and HBS by celebrating local leaders and thinkers and providing them with the opportunities to tell their stories, reflect, and engage with our alumni community,” says Kuemmerlein.

Averaging about four speakers each year, the club also opens events up to alumni from other Harvard schools to deepen the networking opportunities while learning from business luminaries. Previous speakers include Julián Zugazagoitia, the director and CEO of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Adam Aron (MBA 1979), CEO of AMC Theaters, and author Greg Kincaid.

“Our aim is to invite speakers who’ve done remarkable work,” says Kuemmerlein. “And to encourage them to share their personal insights in a welcoming environment.”

Crossroads Conference Explores Deglobalization

More than 350 alumni, corporate and thought leaders convened in Dubai on March 22, to explore the challenges of deglobalization at the 2018 Harvard Crossroads Conference hosted by the HBS Club of the GCC (The Gulf Cooperation Council).

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance, United Arab Emirates, gave opening remarks for the 6th annual conference for HBS alumni in the Gulf Region.

HBS faculty speakers included Geoffrey Jones, Isidor Straus professor of business history, who put deglobalization in historical context; and Karim Lakhani, Charles E. Wilson professor of business administration, who talked about opportunities in the Crossroads region in an era of deglobalization. Mark Elliot, vice provost of international affairs at Harvard, explored the rise and fall of global empires.

Two afternoon panels dug deep into the challenges and opportunities in the Crossroads region and considered innovation in emerging economies. Alumni panelists included: Hiran Embuldeniya (MBA 2005), co-founder and managing partner of Ironwood Capital Partners; Ajmal Ahmady (MBA 2007), senior adviser on banking and finance to the President of Afghanistan; and Tariq Qureishy (GMP 3, 1998), CEO, futurist, and entrepreneur.

The Harvard Crossroads event has come a long way since it first started as a small gathering six years ago. “It started as a simple gathering, and has grown into a must-attend event in the region,” says HBS Club of the GCC President, Goulam Amarsy (MBA 1981). “We continue to be very active in the region and we owe this to a supportive board that provides the moral, financial, and operational assistance that elevates the Club year on year.”

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Class of MBA 1998, Section G
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